Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has told the Executive Council of Australian Jewry that the UNESCO’s draft decision denying a Jewish connection to the Western Wall and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is “highly politicised, unbalanced and provocative”.
She wrote: ” I am dismayed and disappointed that this draft decision was adopted by the UNESCO Executive Board.” She added: “It reflects poorly on UNESCO as an institution.”Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had responded to a letter received from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry earlier this month.
Ms Bishop also expressed her concern “by the use of only the Islamic names of the holy sites”. She added: “This wording could be seen as an attempt to alter the status quo at these Jewish and Islamic holy sites.”
The Foreign Minister pointed out that Australia is not a member of the Executive Board of United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation but made “strong representations to key members as well as Director-General Irina Bokova ahead of the decision”.
Although Australia’s effort were unsuccessful, Julie Bishop wrote to ECAJ president Robert Goot and executive director Peter Wertheim that she was pleased to see of reports of an apology by the Head of the Executive Board to Israel.
She added: “I am pleased by the Director-General’s statement on October 14 calling for explicit recognition of each community’s history and relationship with Jerusalem.”
ECAJ President Robert Goot welcomed the Foreign Minister’s response, saying: “The Foreign Minister is to be commended for her timely action in seeking to revise or reverse this unjust resolution, before it was adopted by the UNESCO Executive Board. Her strong criticisms of the resolution are entirely justified. We are also most gratified that the Foreign Minister was so prompt in keeping us informed of the actions she took.”